Why It's OK to Hate Exercise and What's Not OK.

I love to workout. Truly. Running is my sanctuary, my meditation and my alone time. Weightlifting and even bodyweight exercises make me feel strong and confident. Exercise can feel hard and sometimes it sucks, but I love it for exactly what it is. It pushes me outside my comfort zone, it forces me to grow, it builds mental and physical strength and makes me a better person. 

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I wasn't always this way. When I was 15 I worked at Dairy Queen. It was an awesome job for teenage-me because I could eat all the ice cream I wanted back when my metabolism could handle eating all the ice cream I wanted. The owner of the Dairy Queen is a family friend and my friend on Facebook. A couple years ago when I was taking my RRCA run coaching certification course, she commented:

"I'm getting tired just reading about how much you run. I still can't believe this is the same Lea who worried she would break a sweat cleaning the Blizzard machine."

Yeah, sometimes I can't believe it either. I hated exercise. In my defense though, cleaning the Blizzard machine sucked. I never worked out back in those days or in the decade and a half that followed. My parents made me play softball and it was my own personal hell. I played tennis in high school and while I was never mistaken for being athletic, I excelled at playing singles. What can I say? Solo sports are my jam. (I don't know why I'm using slang from the 90s.)

I didn't figure out that I loved running (and other exercise) at least until my 30s. I think they call that AORS 'Adult Onset Running Syndrome.' Hah. I never liked exercise, so when people tell me, the trainer and running coach, that they hate to exercise, trust me when I say that I understand. I get it. I was right there too. 

I could waste my breath trying to convince non-exercisers that exercising is amazing. I can try to convert the non-believers, but nothing I say will change their minds until they experience that breakthrough for themselves. I can't tell people how to feel and what to enjoy. I can make suggestions and offer new experiences to try. I can (and do) encourage people to get out of their comfort zones and try new things. How do you know you if you love or hate something until you've tried it for awhile?

I am here to tell you that it is totally OK to hate exercise. Really. Traditional exercise is not for everyone. I do want everyone to see it my way, that exercise is the secret to happiness, but we are all different, with different lifestyles and perspectives. 

You know what is not OK? A sedentary lifestyle. You don't have to adopt a traditional exercise routine, you just need to start to move your body to get your heart rate up in a way that fits into your lifestyle.

To be fair, exercise is a broad term. If you think exercise means lifting weights in the gym or running a marathon and neither of those things appeal to you, then you might tell yourself you hate exercise. You're allowed to hate exercise but you still must move your body. Maybe you like dancing, or Zumba, or bike riding, or rock climbing, or walking, or hiking, or swimming, or pogo sticks, or trampolines. It's about opening up your mind to new ways to move. Some people play sports (I hate team sports and that's OK too.)

I wear a Fitbit (if you want to add me as a friend, find my email address here). I work to get 10K steps a day every day that I am physically able (most days unless I am sick or hurt). When I hurt my shoulder and the doctor told me to back off from running and lifting weights to allow my shoulder to heal (wahh) my exercise routine took a big hit, but I never stopped moving. I easily maintained my weight without traditional exercise by paying extra attention to my nutrition and taking daily walks. That's it.

I challenge you to change the way you frame exercise in your mind. Instead of "I hate exercise" think about about seeking out a new way to move your body that you love or at least can tolerate. 

Most people won't stick to something they hate for long enough time to make a health impact. Move your body. Love your body. Find that connection and just move. 

Define exercise in a way that appeals to you and you will never hate exercise again.

It's OK to hate exercise, it's not OK to not move.

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